Painful history strikes Hippos

Monday March 08 2021
soccer01pix

Sad hero. Hippos skipper Gavin Kizito receives the Fair Play plaque. The team exceeded expectations but the dream picked in Nouakchott failed. PHOTO | AGENCIES

By Elvis Senono

In the end, the similarities were far too many to be ignored. And despite the national under-20 team, the Hippos, putting up a spirited fight, maybe it was just not meant to be.

History repeated itself. The Hippos were no match in terms of goals for the strong signals from the Black Satellites who were crowned winners of the Africa Cup of Nations Under-20 tournament.

Like it was in the 1978 final, the last time the two teams met in a final of a continental game, the Ghanaians emerged 2-0 winners.

They were not the hosts this time round, Mauritania taking the honours, but still the comparisons with 1978 could not be overlooked.

Ghana’s scorer in Saturday’s final, the captain Daniel Afriyie scored twice; like Opoku Afriyie did 43 years ago before passing on in the same month in which he scored, last year.

Like in 1978, the consolations also came in terms of individual honours. There was a Ugandan name among the top scorers with the legendary Phillip Omondi among three players that top scored with three goals each.

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Police striker Derrick Kakooza took the gong this time round after finding the back of the net five times for the Hippos side that went into the final as underdogs.

In 1978, the Cranes were similarly regarded as underdogs with the Ghanaians going into the final having previously won in 1963 and 1965.

The West Africans on this occasion came into Saturday’s final after three previous triumphs but should have trailed early on if Kakooza had been more accurate with his lob that went over the bar after five minutes.

“We wanted to get an early lead but we failed to convert our chances,” said coach Morley Byekwaso.

“The boys lost concentration up-front.  Ghana had the better experience than us. The champions used their chances and took the day.”

They were then punished when Afriyie got ahead of Bobosi Byaruhanga and Kenneth Ssemakula to flick the ball past goalkeeper Jack Komakech, who was static as if dazed by a strong satellite signal.

The forward then got his second five minutes after the break,side footing after the Hippos had been caught cold on the break.

And despite a couple of second half chances, the Ghanaians held on, leaving the Hippos debutants whose target was reaching the knockout stages at the start of the tournament taking consolation in Kakooza and Aziz Kayondo making the team of the tournament.

Byekwaso was also named coach of the tournament.

Team of the tournament

Best left back Aziz Kayondo

Striker Derrick Kakooza

Best coach Morley Byekwaso

Top scorer Derrick Kakooza (5 goals)


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